Agency and Freedom in Neo-Functionalist Action

Agency and Freedom / in Neofunctionalist / Action Theory: / A Critique / BY NADER SAIEDI

1 he recent resurgence of interest in Parsonian function theory in what is called neofunctionalism has created con dictory responses. For some theorists, neofunctionalism rep sents an ultimate and foundational discovery of the trans dental presuppositions of the problems of order and rationa in action theory. In contrast, for most conflict theo neofunctionalism is merely a restatement of the conserv and idealist political standpoint which cannot make any seri claim to theoretical novelty and complexity. An alterna strategy is to compare and contrast neofunctionalism w neo-Marxism and try to come up with a new and nondeter nistic synthesis. The author believes that neo-Marxism learn from neofunctionalist emphasis on the concept multidimensional determination of human actions. In this sense neofunctionalism can provide a further challenge against usually criticized the economistic and unidimensional interpre- tations of Marxism, and in various forms has emphasized th relative autonomy of cultural and ideological structures an processes from economic institutions. But the ghost o materialism in the last analysis has been so overwhelming i the neo-Marxist tradition that the concept of multidimension- ality has remained largely a negative and residual categor the reductionistic and economistic stances of orthodox Marxist and neo-Marxist theories. It is true that neo-Marxism has

SOCIAL RESEARCH, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter 1988)

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